Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10771013
Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2000 Mar;393(1-3):197-204
Snake curaremimetic toxins are currently classified as short-chain and long-chain toxins according to their size and their number of disulfide bonds. All these toxins bind with high affinity to muscular-type nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, whereas only long toxins recognize the alpha7 receptor with high affinity. On the basis of binding experiments with Torpedo or neuronal alpha7 receptors using wild-type and mutated neurotoxins, we characterized the molecular determinants involved in these different recognition processes. The functional sites by which long and short toxins interact with the muscular-type receptor include a common core of highly conserved residues and residues that are specific to each of toxin families. Furthermore, the functional sites through which alpha-cobratoxin, a long-chain toxin, interacts with muscular and alpha7 receptors share similarities but also marked differences. Our results reveal that the three-finger fold toxins have evolved toward various specificities by displaying distinct functional sites.